Village Buildings

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POD Initiative

Village Buildings: reinventing affordable housing from the bottom up. 

A book and web project in progress, initially developed as a proposal to the Meyer Memorial Trust's spring 2019 Advocacy or general funding RFPs (Request For Proposals). by Tim McCormick. 
Alternate titles:
Revillaging the World;
A Pattern Language for Affordable Housing: Models from Oregon.

This page is book draft / outline, mostly linking to individual sections which are being developed as independent articles. 



Introduction / background

Oregon utopian colonies, communes, planning 

Portland Downtown Plan

See article:  Portland Downtown Plan

Oregon land use reform

See article Oregon land use reform

International tradition of self-build housing advocacy

  • squatter / "One-night house" global tradition in law & folklore - cf Colin Ward histories.  See article: One night house
  • UK - Walter Segal self-build method - council housing, Lewisham, London
  • Latin America - JFC Turner "Freedom to Build"
  • US community/occupation housing 1960s-
  • 1960s onward - alternative housing - Whole Earth catalog, Shelter Publishing, etc 

Early Oregon villages for the homeless

Dignity Village

interview/features: Ibrahim Mubarek, Mark Lakeman

uniqueness: perhaps first US permanent city-sanctioned, resident-established village

See article: Dignity Village

Opportunity Village, Eugene

See main article Opportunity Village

Right 2 Dream Too

See main article Right 2 Dream Too

Hazelnut Grove

interview/feature: Vahid Brown, Village Coalition, Hazelnut Grove

See main article Hazelnut Grove

others in OR & elsewhere

See main article Village model 


Portland State University, Center for Public Interest Design

See article: Center for Public Interest Design.

Connecting global practices of informal, community-based, participatory development


Teddy Cruz interview

 from interview with Teddy Cruz, 2012 Visiting Professor at CPID, on OPB Think Out Loud [Blanchard 2012]:

"I've been interested in documenting many of the, what I call stealth activities that happen in many neighborhoods of immigrants who come and maybe plug an economy into a garage, or maybe build a granny flat that is illegal, just to support an extended family... much of this incredible social and economic entrepreneurship sometimes is not really included in the zoning regulation, and in a sense I've been trying to amplify how this activity in the hands of immigrants comes to retrofit the monoculture and mono-use parcels of many of these older neighborhoods could be the DNA to in fact rethink land use and ultimately housing models. "So I think that what we are talking about maybe in Portland in the context of these projects and these initiatives is pretty much the same. It may not be immigrants per se, but it's really about the entrepreneurship also of youth, and how their activity can begin to inspire the reorganization of housing models, and here is then when architects come in, maybe not as designers of buildings only, but maybe as designers of interface systems that can begin to enable to very different idea of housing altogather. By that I mean whether it is governance or development or academia, we tend to think of housing only as units of housing, instead of maybe imagining housing as an incubator of economy, or maybe as a catalyst for a kind of cultural and social relations.  "In a sense I've been in trouble with my own field of architecture, because I've been critical of architects who only focus on buildings, Instead I think we really need to begin to understand the broader set of relations. In other words, the future of the city at this moment of crisis depends less on buildings, and more on the reconfiguration of social and economic relations. I think there is a huge potential that Outside In, the agencies that are so progressive, in cities equally progressive as Portland, can begin to lead the way in reimagining what we mean by housing." 


Village Coalition & POD Initiative

Cross-sector coalition and design, to convene deep community response

See article: Village Coalition

Interview/feature: Sergio Palleroni

POD Initative

  • description.
  • see main article POD Initiative
  • interview/feature: Todd Ferry
  • Project descriptions

Plywood POD Initiative

Kenton Women's and later villages

interview/feature: Sarah Iannarone, members of Lents occupation

See main article: Kenton Women's Village

Clackamas County Veteran's Village

See main article: Clackamas County Veteran's Village

Agape Village

See main article: Agape Village

Permanent villages

Emerald Village, Eugene

See main article: Emerald Village

house plans

Cottage Village, Cottage Grove

See main article: Cottage Village

house plans

Cluster/co-op infill housing

Co-op/condo villages 

See also main article: Cluster housing.

Cully Grove

Sabin Green

City of Milwaukie study

potential for under OR HB2001 & Portland RIP program

New congregate housing

LISAH - Low Income Single Adult Housing - Transition Projects

See article:  LISAH

Jolene's First Cousin - Guerilla Development

See article: Jolene's First Cousin


Meyer Cost Efficiencies program 

Transition Projects Inc - modular housing - LISAH.

"Lean" manufacturing": REACH CDC - SE PDX project

SquareOne Villages - Cottage Grove Village


Million Month Challenge program 

Program of Meyer Memorial Trust. 

See main article: Million Month Challenge

proposals Fall 2018

awardee projects - updates from Sept 2019


Future paths

Village cluster housing

villages as cluster housing / pocket neighborhoods - enabled by state law HB2001 and Portland RIP program? 

[add here my article on this in Village Collaborative group -tim.]. 

a path to larger co-operative building approaches, eg Baugruppe.

Creative by community capital rather than financial capital.

Refugee, emergency, climate-change, & eco- villages? 


Redeployable tiny homes for village / ADU crossover use

   PAD Initiative / New Starter Homes projects


Constructing a legal right to housing

Alexander, Lisa T [2015].  "Occupying the Constitutional Right to Housing." 94 Neb. L. Rev. 245 (2015).
Available at:

"This Article's central thesis is that the conflict and contestation between [U.S. housing rights movements and private property advocates who seek to thwart these movements' efforts] helps forge new understandings of how local housing and property entitlements can be equitably allocated, consistent with the human right to housing and U.S. constitutional norms. While there is no formal federal, state, or constitutional right to housing in America, these movements' illegal occupations and local housing reforms concretize the human right to housing in local American laws, associate the human right to housing with well-accepted constitutional norms, and establish the contours of the human right to housing in the American legal consciousness.' These movements construct the human right to housing in American law by establishing through private and local laws a right to remain, a right to adequate and sustainable shelter, a right to housing in a location that preserves cultural heritage, a right to a self-determined community, and a right to equal housing opportunities for non-property owners, among other rights. By challenging local property rights, these movements also demonstrate how non-property owners, who lack adequate housing, also lack equal dignity, equal opportunity, equal citizenship, privacy, personal autonomy, and self-determination-all norms explicit in the U.S. constitutional order. 

Note particularly:  
III. Occupying the American Right to Housing
   A. Eminent Domain for Squatters' Control of Land 
   B. Eminent Domain for Local Principal Reduction
   C. Zoning Micro-Homes for the Homeless


Problem/objection patterns

(i.e. commonly raised objections, & responses). 

1) temporary' housing or shelter is now widely deprecated as a homelessness response, in US & European official/mainstream positions. It is said to divert from the real solution, permanent housing, and it doesn't end homelessness. 
[shelter and temporary housing are now defined to be states of homelessness]. 

2) We shouldn't endorse the idea that low- or very-low-income housing can be created without public subsidy -- this undermines the ongoing urgent effort to increase public funding. 
Homeless and low-income people shouldn't be expected to take less/different or 'substandard' housing vs other people. 

3) If acceptable housing standards (e.g. dwelling space, facilities) are lowered in cases or one area, it allows or creates pressure for them to be lowered more widely, and this will lower living standards for many. 

4) when/how do lower development costs result in lower housing costs? 

5) affordability and housing standards 

6) issues with government funding restrictions / mandates. 

7) stigma on or deliberate demarcation (positive or negative) on social housing. 

8) US case of restricted and differentiated style/materials, vs e.g. WPA, Vienna, UK examples of positive socialist and civic symbolism. 

9) housing diversity - letting dwellers choose/adapt housing that matches their value priorities. 

10) long-term cost issues
   -- maintainability, durability
   -- community and dweller acceptance.

Appendix: A pattern language for housing affordability

See main article: A Pattern Language for Housing Affordability


Appendix: Project/book ideas

Name ideas

  • Revillaging the World1: new models for affordable housing from Oregon
    1this expression is used and I think was possibly coined by Mark Lakeman of Communitecture / Village Repair Project, Portland. Discuss use with him "Revillaging the city" was apparently used by Dan Yashinsky as far back as 2011. 
  • Village Buildings: new affordable housing models from Oregon
  • The Oregon Housing Experiment
  • The Portland Experiment 
  • A Pattern Language for Affordable Housing: New Models from Oregon

(the last three titles allude to works of Christopher Alexander et al: The Oregon Experiment (1975), which "describes an experimental approach to campus community planning at the University of Oregon, in Eugene, Oregon which resulted in a theory of architecture and planning described in the group's later published and better-known volumes A Pattern Language (1977) and The Timeless Way of Building (1979)."
   "A pattern language is a method of describing good design practices or patterns of useful organization within a field of expertise. The term was coined by architect Christopher Alexander and popularized by his 1977 book A Pattern Language." (Wikipedia). 


Book/publishing design concepts

  1. developed incrementally by writing & disseminating articles, gathering feedback, soliciting suggestions for approaches/projects to include, and most usable ways to present.
  STRATEGY: to extent possible, keep developing the project in public wiki, in relatively self-contained sub-topic articles. This means: a) it's never really yet-unpublished, it's just a gradually or steadily improving state.  b) open for others to contribute, ask questions, give feedback;  c) sub-topic articles may be useful for other purposes too, as soon as they're created.  d) a 'book' will be just a certain gathering-point from this material, but overall it can continue developing. 

   2. Graphically innovative, bold design emphasizing 
      a) "pattern language" approach of mapping very wide range of approaches, and analyzing how different projects may embody multiple patterns to various degrees. 
      b) Holistic / "overview" angle: e.g. provide estimates for how much housing and what affordability impact each approach might conceivably enable. 
   3. Potentially, "living book" approach where book-in-progress turns into web-hosted living version of book which can collaboratively evolve to include new projects, concepts, research, bibliography. Cross-referenced to e.g. Wikipedia, YIMBYwiki, etc to build completeness as a reference resource. 
   4. Key book contents such as project discussions and analyses of patterns may be adapted into Wikipedia, YIMBYwiki, and/or other open online resources, for maximum dissemination and impact. 

Potential grant sponsors or collaborators:

  • SquareOne Villages 
  • Portland State University, Center for Public Interest Design 
  • Portland State University, Homelessness Research and Action Collaborative
  • City Repair Project
  • Sustasis Foundation, Portland
  • Architecture firms that have done POD Initiative, Plywood POD Initiative, or Emerald Village / Cottage Village designs and prototypes. 

Relation to other books / web resources

Tent City Urbanism book (2014): consider this project as a sequel / complement to this book. Perhaps ossible to use same "Village Collaborative" imprint? 
-> avoid redundant material.
-> consider what are natural follow-on questions and topics, gaps, from 2014 book; and what could make new book as valuable, and complementary. 
    -> present results of pilots / hypotheses from 2014 book. 
    -> new conceptual extensions.  

SquareOne Villages' Toolbox resource, portions of which such as house plans require a $10/mo donor membership. 

CPID publications / publicity

Meyer Memorial Trust materials. 

Village Coalition site. 

STRATEGY:  establish at start a policy of allowing content sharing, by default (except perhaps special permission images, etc) from Village Buildings to the other partners. 

STRATEGY:  set plan for, at later phase, a) converting to open licensing, e.g. CC-BY or CC-BY-NC;  b) migrating articles/materials into other places such as A Pattern Language For Growing Regions (APLFGR - Michael Mehaffy & Ward Cunningham wiki), and Wikipedia. 
--> building towards a broad, growing, public repository of public-interest housing/building materials. 


"Revillaging the Book" concept - co-op funding

A possible approach we're exploring is to offer part or all of the 'equity' in the project to initial donors and contributors, in proportion to their contribution towards the funding goal (say, $40,000) or project completion. Donors/contributors would be credited in the book, and offered a share of any future (post-publication) net profits, in proportion to equity stake. 

A more sophisticated version of this approach would allow for project equity to be resold under certain conditions, as in a housing cooperative. For example, equity stakes or 'tokens' can have a planned or demand-set price change over time while fundraising, incenting early contributions. Project contributors who receive equity stake for work, can potentially have a way to get income for their work.

In either of the cases above, of equity having resale value or not, there is potential for the mechanism to be viewed by the US governmentas a 'security' subject to securities regulations. Compliance would probably be untenable, so the project would need to be designed to avoid risk of this classification. 
The interest here is probably not so much in anyone making notable money, but in exploring a new model for cooperative projects that share credit, resources, and rewards, in order to be more effective and fair. See more discussion in: "Cooperative Product Development" (notes / paper draft) by Tim McCormick, January 2016.

Potential integration with A Pattern Language for Growing Regions 

Michael Mehaffy, a student and collaborator of Christopher Alexander, and director of the Portland-based Sustasis Foundation, has been developing a new book to extend A Pattern Language, called A Pattern Language for Growing Regions. It is planned for publication on late 2019, with a public draft now open for comments, and extensible online repository. 

"56 new patterns will address new challenges, including rapid urbanization, declining public space, urban sustainability, new technology, economic tools and strategies, geometric patterns, and more.  This draft version will be finalized later in 2019, along with an on-line repository of these and other new patterns, based on Ward Cunningham's new federated wiki.  Ward was the inventor of Wiki, and a pioneer of "pattern languages of programming" -- for which he developed the first wiki.  His new "federated wiki" has exciting new capabilities which we hope to exploit in the new repository.  Ward is a board member of Sustasis Foundation and Sustasis Press. 

"Our goal is to exploit the powerful successes of wikis, pattern languages of programming, and other outgrowths of pattern languages, returning again to the challenges of cities, buildings, and public spaces. We are collaborating with many former students and colleagues of Christopher Alexander, as well as others who have used pattern languages effectively in other domains.  We are also working with people in many countries around the world. We want to make a tool that allows people in any part of the world to use, edit, add, revise and develop their own pattern languages for their own projects, contributing at the same time to a growing resource of patterns for others to share. "

We've been discussing with Michael and have suggested, could there be a section, supplement, or supplemental volume to #APLFGR for housing affordability patterns? Mehaffy talks about wikis and pattern-languages as tools for "consensus development." In that vein, I've been thinking with this book concept about how to show varied patterns - from public housing to 'abundant' market housing - as all being possible sources of or factors in affordability. As integrable, instead of conflicting, ideas/approaches.

 Bibliography / Works Cited

  • Alexander, Christopher, and Murray Silverstein, Shlomo Angel, Sara Ishikawa, Denny Abrams.    
    ___. The Oregon Experiment, 1975.
    ___. A Pattern Language, 1977
    ___. The Timeless Way of Building, 1979
  • Alexander, Lisa T [2015].  "Occupying the Constitutional Right to Housing." 94 Neb. L. Rev. 245 (2015). Available at:
  • Andersen, Michael. [2019] "Re-legalizing Fourplexes is the Unfinished Business of Tom McCall"  ["For decades, Oregon has used state law to battle economic segregation. Fair-housing experts say HB 2001 is the next step"]., January 23, 2019. 
  • Aquilino, Marie, ed. Beyond Shelter: Architecture and Human Dignity. (New York, NY: Metropolis Books, 2011).
    ISBN 9781935202479
       Part 1. Architecture after disaster : 
    Learning from Aceh / Andrea Fitrianto --
    Beyond shelter in the Solomon Islands / Andrea Nield --
    News from the Teardrop Island / Sandra D'Urzo --
    From transitional to permanent shelter: invaluable partnerships in Peru / International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies --
       Part 2. What should governments do? : 
    When people are involved / Thiruppugazh Venkatachalam --
    Citizen architects in India / Rupal and Rajendra Desai --
    What about out cities?: Rebuilding Muzaffarabad / Maggie Stephenson, Sheikh Ahsan Ahmed, and Zahid Amin --
       Part 3. Urban risk and recovery : 
    Below the sill plate: New Orleans East struggles to recover / Deborah Gans with James Dart --
    Slumlifting: an informal toolbox for a new architecture / Alfredo Brillembourg and Hubert Klumpner --
    Sustainable communities: avoiding disaster in the informal city / Arlene Lusterio --
    Camouflaging disaster: 60 linear miles of local transborder urban conflict / Teddy Cruz --
    Cultural heritage and disaster mitigation: a new alliance / Rohit Jigyasu --
       Part 4. Environmental resilience : 
    Green recovery / Anita van Breda and Brittany Smith --
    The home as the world: Tamil Nadu / Jennifer E. Duyne Barenstein --
    Design as mitigation in the Himalayas / Francesca Galeazzi --
    On beauty, architecture, and crisis: the Salem Centre for Cardiac Surgery in Sudan / Raul Pantaleo --
       Part 5. Teaching as strategic action : 
    Cultivation resilience: the BaSiC Initiative / Sergio Palleroni --
    Studio 804 in Greensburg, Kansas / Don Rockhill and Jenny Kivett --
    Sustainable knowledge and internet technology / Mehran Gharaati, Kimon Onuma, and Guy Fimmers --
       Part 6. Is prevention possible? : 
    More to lose: the paradox of vulnerability / John Norton and Guillaume Chantry --
    Building peace across African frontiers / Robin Cross and Naomi Handa Williams --
    Haiti 2010: reports from the field / Marie J. Aquilino --
    Afterword : 
    Open letter to architects, engineers, and urbanists / Patrick Coulombel.
  • Beekman, Daniel. "Stop opening tent cities, homelessness expert tells Seattle leaders." The Seattle Times, 26 February 2016.
  • Blanchard, Dave. [2012]. "Designing for Homelessness." [interview with Linly Bynam, Teddy Cruz, & Sergio Palleroni]. OPB Think Out Loud, October 3rd 2012.
  • Chapin, Ross. Pocket Neighborhoods: Creating Small-Scale Community in a Large-Scale World. (2011). 
  • Chomei, Kamo, et al. Ten Foot Square Hut (Hojoki) and Tales of the Heike. (1972). Translated by A. L. Sadler. 
  • Diedrickson, Derek "Deek". Micro living: 40 innovative tiny houses equipped for full-time living, in 400 square feet or less. 2018. 
  • Douglas, Gordon C.C. The Help-Yourself City: Legitimacy and Inequality in DIY Urbanism. (2018). 
  • Hayden, Dolores. Redesigning the American Dream: Gender, Housing, and Family Life. (??)
  • Heben, Andrew. Tent City Urbanism: From Self-Organized Camps to Tiny House Villages. (2014).
  • ____. "2014 in Review: A Pivotal Year for Tiny House Villages.", 30 December 2014.
  • ____. "2015 in Review: Tiny House Villages progress as traditional housing options continue to fall short.", 30 December 2015. 
  • Jackson, John Brinckerhoff. "The Mobile Home, and how it came to America."  in Discovering the Vernacular Landscape (1984). 
  • Kahn, Lloyd. Tiny Homes: Simple Shelter (2012). 
  • Kahn, Lloyd and Bob Easton, eds. Shelter. (2nd edition, 2000). 
  • Kern, Ken. The Owner-Built Home. (Homestead Press, 1972).
  • Los Angeles County Homeless Initiative. "Housing Innovation Challenge." Accessed 11 March 2019. 
  • McCormick, Tim [2016]. "Cooperative Product Development" (notes / paper draft). January 2016.
  • Mitchell, Ryan. Tiny House Living: Ideas For Building and Living Well In Less than 400 Square Feet. (2014).
  • Monahan, Rachel [2017]. "A Developer Offers the Portland Mayor 300 Apartments at a Deep Discount—and Waits for a Reply."  [on Rob Justus / Home First Development].  Willamette Week, March 21, 2017. 
  • Mosher, Heather Irene, "Participatory Action Research with Dignity Village: An Action Tool for Empowerment Within a Homeless Community" (2010). Portland State University, Dissertations and Theses. Paper 36. 10.15760/etd.36.
  • The Oregonian Editorial Board. "The bold promise to reduce homelessness: Editorial Agenda 2015." The Oregonian, Updated Jan 09, 2019; Posted Oct 03, 2015.
         "Dignity Village and Right 2 Dream Too, meanwhile, are ghettos operating successfully by their own logic, but they provide no working model for long-term accommodation to the city's burgeoning homeless population."
  • Park, Eileen. [2018] "Guerrilla Development's bold plan to end homelessness." by  KOIN-TV, Oct 18, 2018. 
  • Smith, Doug [2019]. "Five winning ideas to build housing more quickly and cheaply for L.A.’s homeless community." Los Angeles Times, Feb 15, 2019. 
  • Tafari, Jack. "We Need a Tent City." Street Roots (Portland), October 2000.
  • ___. "The future." Street Roots, December 2000.
  • ___. "A brief history of the Out of the Doorways campaign, part one." Street Roots, 6 Dec 2009.
  • Turner, John F. C. [1972a]. "Housing as a Verb." in Turner, ed. Freedom to Build: Dweller Control of the Housing Process (1972). 
  • Turner, John F. C. [1976] Housing By People: Towards Autonomy in Building Environments.1976. with Introduction by Colin Ward.
  • Turner, John F. C., ed [1972]. Freedom to Build: Dweller Control of the Housing Process.1972.
  • United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH). "Ending Homelessness for People Living in Encampments: Advancing the Dialogue.", August 2015.
  • Waldroupe, Amanda [2017]. "Pilot project in Portland to test locally funded housing vouchers." Street Roots, 23 Jun 2017.
  • Walker, Lester. A Little House of My Own: 47 Grand Designs for 47 Tiny Houses. 2000. [? check for earlier edition]
  • Ward, Colin. Housing: An Anarchist Approach (1976). 
  • Ward, Colin. Talking Houses. (London: Freedom House, 1990). 
  • ___. [2002]. Cotters and Squatters: Housing's Hidden History. (Nottingham: Five Leaves, 2002).
  • ___, [2002b]. "The Worldwide One-night House." Open Democracy, 2002, [accessed 27 October 2009].
  • ___. [2004]. "The Hidden History of Housing." (London: History and Policy, September 2004);
  • ___. [?] "Walter Segal: Community Architect." Walter Segal Self Build Trust, [accessed 15 February 2010].
  • ___. [?] Autonomy, Solidarity, Possibility: The Colin Ward Reader. Edited by Damian F. White and Chris Wilbert. 
  • Wikipedia. "Dignity Village." Accessed 17 Oct 2019.
  • ____. "Jack Tafari." Accessed 17 Oct 2019. 




Thanks for feedback from and conversations with:
Michael Andersen, Sightline Institute.
Elise Aymer, Critical Diversity Solutions - Toronto / Berkeley.
Andrew Heben - SquareOne Villages, Eugene.
Sarah Iannarone
Margarette Leite, Center for Public Interest Design
MIchael Mehaffy - Sustasis Foundation, Portland.
John McCormick, AIA, AICP (Emeritus) - Portland.
Michael Parkhurst, Meyer Memorial Trust. 
Kol Peterson -, etc, Portland.


Authors/editor bio notes


To Do

- review Tent City Urbanism, and references section. 
- research Print on Demand options - ask Andrew, Steven 
- villagebuildings twitter.
- VB logo?
- VB domain registration
- VB site